top of page
  • Writer's pictureSarah Kichula

Women’s Sports: Breaking Records and Making History

By: Sarah Kichula and Nolan Hafer

March 26, 2024


Photo Credit: Getty Images

To celebrate women’s history month, let’s examine the remarkable recent transformation of women’s sports. Thanks to noteworthy players and dedicated fans alike, there has been massive surges in revenue, visibility, and overall development in women’s sports leagues. As a result, investors looking to get involved in women’s sports see it not just as an equitable decision comprising a small part of their business portfolio but as a key driver of revenue growth. These investments have been properly utilized within women’s sports in a variety of ways to ensure that the next generation of girls (and boys) can help propel this positive trend into the future. Interact with the tabs below to learn about the recent business in women's sports:


Broadcasting


National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)

The NWSL recently secured a four-year media rights deal worth $240 million with Amazon, CBS, ESPN, and Scripps Sports. Compared to the league’s previous deal, a three-year media rights deal with CBS worth just $3.5 million, this development represents a monumental leap for the league. With the combination of four different broadcasting avenues (and their affiliate streaming platforms) to showcase the league’s product, NWSL games will reach new audiences, strengthening the league’s position as a true powerhouse of women’s sports. There will be over 100 games broadcasted between the four entities, with Amazon Prime Video taking one playoff game, ESPN/ABC taking three, and CBS taking two (including the NWSL Championship). This deal is just one example of the increased visibility and demand for women’s sports.


 NCAA Women’s Basketball

The NCAA just signed a new eight-year media rights deal with ESPN worth $920 million, and within that financial figure, NCAA Women’s March Madness was valued at $65 million. While the deal encompasses college sports across the board and ensures live broadcasting for the national championship events of women’s volleyball and gymnastics, it is no secret that the heart of the value comes from women’s basketball. The Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship game brought in record viewership last year, and the starpower of players such as Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, LSU’s Angel Reese, UConn’s Paige Bueckers, and others means that these viewership figures are only going to become more impressive with each passing season. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by Seton Hall University, when respondents were given the names of ten star NCAA basketball players from across the country (five male and five female), four of the top six players identified were female. To see how this starpower continues to affect viewership trends and fan engagement, keep an eye out for an upcoming SBAJ article highlighting this year’s tournament. 


Commercial & Sponsorships


The development of women’s professional sports leagues, increased brand valuations, and the emergence of star athletes has spurred the rapid growth of women’s sports. Following this trend, this summer’s Paris Olympic Games will mark an equal gender balance among participants for the first time in history. A surge in the popularity of domestic women’s club soccer in America, piggybacking off of the success story of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, captures the growing brand visibility and demand for women’s sports. Newer leagues, such as the PWHL, further highlight the equality of opportunity for female athletes in the modern day. Investors have capitalized on this industry growth to market the unique skills of women such as Caitlin Clark, who has caused fans across the country (men and women) to not just tune into women’s basketball but do so with respect and admiration for the game itself.


While it is important to celebrate the empowerment of women in sports and these positive recent trends, there is still a lot of work to do to achieve equal representation across genders. Whether it be through the breaking of gender norms in ownership or management positions, supporting infrastructure for emerging women’s sports leagues, or embracing female star athletes as distinct from their male counterparts, women’s elite sports can only continue to grow in 2024 and beyond.

Comments


bottom of page